A Little Gift Shop with a Big Heart

A visit to Watson Lake would not be complete without a walk through the amazing Sign Post Forest with its more than 77,000 signs, or a stop at the little gift shop covered in license plates at the back of the Sign Post Forest.

It’s likely you will find John Reynolds, owner of the The DuDrop In Gift Shop, in his customary straw cowboy hat and infectious smile.

Reynolds explains that he and his family want their country lifestyle reflected in the experience at the gift shop.

“You’ll often hear some Johnny Cash or bluegrass playing from our porch and get a howdy upon your coming within view of my chair upon the deck,” Reynolds says.

Following him into the rustic interior of his shop, you notice the rough-hewed wood shelves displaying local products. Not only is he knowledgeable about all the items, he knows the artisans personally.

Gracing the walls are beautiful, incredibly lifelike, pencil portraits by Carly Reynolds of Sunrise Portraits. She is also available for commission work.

Bee Whyld Yukon Fireweed Honey is available for purchase here.

The three blends of Northern Ora’s chaga tea can be found at the DuDrop In Gift Shop.

Distinctive home décor pieces made from driftwood and reclaimed wood by Heartwood and Soul are also available for sale here.

All of these artisans can be found on Facebook under their company names.

The DuDrop In Gift Shop offers custom license plates while you wait – a memento from the Sign Post Forest to take home or place on the front of your vehicle. There are a variety of backgrounds to pick from, including the Sign Post Forest, the northern lights and a couple veteran plates. For a unique and personal souvenir, get a license plate of your province, state or territory and have it personalized. Many people like their last name and the distance to their hometown printed on the plate.

For visitors wanting to hang a sign in the forest, The DuDrop In has pieces of locally milled lumber for people to personalize. The finished sign will be varnished and a ladder, nails and hammer offered to facilitate the addition to the forest.

With the opening of the Alaska Highway to the public in 1948, numerous gift shops popped up around The Sign Post Forest over the following decades. The building housing the DuDrop In Gift Shop has a history of its own, being one of only two remaining gift shop buildings still standing.

This little building standing at the back of the Sign Post Forest caught Reynolds’ eye. Knowing that he could give new life to the old building, he and his wife, Carly, purchased the building in 2014, having never seen the inside.

“It was a solid undertaking – paying before ever seeing the inside of the building, Reynolds says. “Decrepit, partially water damaged and uneven, it sat upon the moist spring ground the first time I had the keys to finally view the inside. That spring, still with piles of snow along the boardwalk, I rebuilt the supports, levelled, and replaced the interior walls, vapour barrier, roofing, trim and light fixtures.”

The DuDrop In was opened as a gift shop at the Sign Post Forest in 2015 to offer visitors a friendly place to visit and a sampling of local products.

When asked about the future of the gift shop, Reynolds responds, “I have my sights on an expansion this year to the gift shop, planning an addition by the end of the summer to showcase more local artisans, especially native art. I am passionate for the oil paintings and artwork of many forms, be it wood, drawn or music.

“We strive to focus on family values and customer service here. Whether renting out a hammer and stepladder by donation or just visiting alongside the forest, I truly appreciate each person I am able to interact with daily. We must, after all, truly be the change we wish to see upon this beautiful planet. My family and I are completely content and appreciative for each sale and interaction that comes into our lives.”

The DuDrop In Gift Shop is open Monday to Friday from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. and 3 p.m. to 8 p.m.; and Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. and 3 p.m. to 8 p.m.

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